Professor Chris Hankin delivers keynote address at SIDC launch

Professor Chris Hankin delivers keynote address at SIDC launch

Professor Chris Hankin, member of the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research Strategic Advisory Group and head of Academic RiSC, delivered a keynote address at the launch of the Security Innovation and Demonstration Centre.

The full text of Professor Hankin’s address is available below. For more information on Academic RiSC, read Professor Hankin’s recent blog post – Academic RiSC helping Government solve national security challenges. 

Address by Professor Chris Hankin at Security Innovation and Demonstration Centre Launch

Good morning

I am delighted to be here this morning to speak on behalf of the academic community. I chair a body called Academic RiSC – the Academic Resilience and Security Community – and I also sit on the steering group for the Security and Resilience Growth Partnership, chaired by the Minister.

Even before the 2012 white paper was published, it was clear that to achieve the Government’s intent, it would be necessary to establish a genuine partnership between industry, academia and government. We held a workshop in late 2011 to identify the barriers that prevented academia from fully participating in this endeavor. One of the key barriers concerned the way in which end user capability requirements are translated into research challenges suitable for taking to an academic audience.

The workshop activity led to an ongoing conversation and the eventual creation of Academic RiSC, largely at the instigation of the OSCT Director for Security Industry Engagement, Stephen Phipson. Our members are universities: we currently have 21 members but with an ambition to grow over the coming months and years.

I won’t enumerate all of our members but they include Bristol, Cambridge, Imperial, Oxford and University College and cover the whole of the UK. Their contributions range from smart materials to advanced cryptography and, following recent Government investments, the UK is set to maintain its world leading position in quantum technologies.

Our objective is to coordinate the response from academia whenever Government requires assistance, as in the recent Ebola crisis. Our aim is to access relevant expertise wherever it is in the universities, regardless of whether it is explicitly oriented towards security and resilience challenges. And it goes beyond the physical science and engineering disciplines, seeking input from the social sciences and the arts and humanities, all of whom have a contribution to make.

We welcome the creation of the Security Innovation and Demonstration Centre. It will enable‎ academia to take applied as well as more fundamental research and direct it to real operational challenges and in realistic environments with end users intimately involved. It is an important mechanism that will help to ensure that the research in our universities is achieving impact in this crucially important area.

The Centre also provides a vehicle for creating new partnerships between academia and industry. Partnerships with industry are vital to commercialise academic work, to help us achieve impact and overcome the so-called ‘valley of death’ between early stage R&D and eventual take-up by manufacturers and adoption by end users.

The Minister has spoken about the Grand Challenge concept. The Innovation and Demonstration Centre, through partnership between Government, academia and industry, will also develop capability roadmaps. I anticipate that this will give us a much better understanding of where, why and how to invest in early stage low Technology Readiness Level research, and how best to hand this research over to industry at an appropriate point.

Through my own experience of working in this area, I have personally developed new skills and understanding. The challenge of developing academic research to the point where it can contribute to the solution of real world problems is an exciting endeavour. I am certain that academia’s involvement in SIDC will also build new skills in universities and research institutions.

I close by echoing the Minister’s and industry’s words. Academic RiSC looks forward to seeing the centre go from strength to strength as we work together with industry, Government and end users to address the challenges, both grand and less grand that will drive innovation, promote growth and demonstrate a clear contribution to our national security.

Thank you.